We were lucky enough to experience a lot of good meals in 2012. We honeymooned in France and Italy. We had a weekend getaway in Las Vegas. I got to try the number #1 restaurant on my bucket list. And got to experience not just one, but two 3-Michelin star restaurants. I can only hope to be as lucky in 2013.
Here’s the round-up of my most memorable meals from 2012:
#13 Seasons 52
DH was shocked when this made my favorite meals of 2012. But I really loved my meal here and I am in awe of the flavors they were able to accomplish while still keeping the meal under 475 calories and not cooking with any butters or creams. I predict many more visits in 2013.
#12 Le Chateaubriand
No set menu, one menu a night, rebel chef. This was one fun dinner. I was constantly kept on my toes with the different combinations paired together on our plates. It’s also one of the few restaurants listed in the 50 World’s Best Restaurants 2012 Guide (ranked #15) where you can experience a multi-course meal without breaking the bank (60 euros per person).
Alright, I only technically love two things here: chao tom cuon (grilled shrimp paste spring rolls) and nem nuong cuon (grilled pork paste spring rolls), but since our first meal consisted only of these two items, it still makes the list. The spring rolls plus the mysterious dipping sauce were one of my favorite bites this year and I’ve been back about half a dozen times to order large quantities of the rolls for take-out.
#10 Flavor Del Mar
DH and I were both so happy with our meal here. It was our favorite date night meal in San Diego this year and we are going back again soon.
#9 Nana San
We loved everything about this place: the atmosphere, high quality fish, efficiency and reasonable prices. We’ll definitely be back again next time we’re in the area.
I almost forgot about this when creating my list because it wasn’t a regular meal. But I think it still counts. I was impressed with Pearl. While my regular dining experiences at Pearl have been alright, they really stepped it up for the wedding banquet food and it was on par with Chinese wedding banquets I’ve experienced in the past. DH has been bugging me ever since wondering when we’ll get to experience eating a Chinese wedding banquet again.
I have such a sweet tooth that I decided to launch a list this year that included the desserts I most loved that didn’t come from my own kitchen. These are ones I purchased or had at a restaurant that I just can’t stop thinking about:
The chocolate cupcake I tasted at 2Good2B Bakery was one of the best chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. The bakery managed to make the cupcake unbelievably light and fluffy and still pack a very rich chocolate flavor. And to top it off, it’s even gluten free.
I like my crepes to be thin and crispy and Crepes Bonaparte delivers on that. In addition, this crepe is stuffed with Nutella, strawberries and bananas. Need I say more?
Bread Puddings usually aren’t high on my list of favorite desserts, but Uptown Tavern makes a fantastic one that stays close to the classic. It’s hard to describe or explain why I love it so much. It’s just a really well made bread pudding and one of the best I’ve had in San Diego.
#12 Black Sesame Snow Ice from Blockheads (not yet blogged about)
This year I’ve explored quite a lot of snow ice places. I didn’t love the toppings offered here but the black sesame snow is the best version of black sesame flavor that I’ve tried. Black sesame can be an intense flavor, but Blockheads has managed to find just the right balance. The snow itself is also very, very soft. In fact, I think it’s actually softer than the snow of my beloved Class 302.
I love ice cream, exotic flavors, the color purple and super premium creamy ice cream. Mitchell’s provides all that for me in their ube ice cream. It’s the best ube ice cream I’ve had to date and if I could, I’d bring gallons of this stuff home.
#10 Rhubarb Strawberry, Espresso, and “Oh No You Didn’t” Macarons from Bouchon Bakery Yountville (not yet blogged about)
Thomas Keller’s macarons are my favorite next to Pierre Herme’s. This year I visited the Bouchon Bakery in Yountville and realized that there are quite a few flavors offered there that are not offered at the other locations I’ve visited. I’ve tried three there that I love more than any other flavor I’ve tried. The strawberry rhubarb actually uses fresh rhubarb pieces in the filling. The Espresso cuts into the sweetness and I love the smattering of espresso powder over the shells. The “Oh No You Didn’t” ones are his classic macarons but dipped and covered in chocolate.
I had this dessert while visiting Lisko Artisan Deli, though the desserts are actually made at Opera Patisserie. I really enjoyed this one. Rich chocolate, crunchy hazelnut bottom and creamy liquor cherries in the middle.
This is my favorite dessert from Extraordinary Desserts. I love chocolate croissants, so making it into a bread pudding just makes it even more decadent.
Last year I started the tradition of doing a round-up of my favorite meals and recipes at the end of the year. It’s something I had a lot of fun doing and I’ve been looking forward to doing it again this year.
So to start things off, I’m sharing my favorite recipes of 2012. I tried to narrow it down to ten, but it was just too hard. So I’m sharing my top 15. And yes, I am quite aware that the majority of recipes involve Nutella.
Homemade fruit leather is so so easy. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to try it. It’s a great way to use up a lot of fruit and they make great gifts too.
I’ve made a lot of gourmet cookie recipes this year, but sometimes I’m just craving a regular, super sweet, chewy cookie. And this one hits the spot perfectly. They are thin and flat, chewy, fudgy and quite sweet. It’s a favorite with my family and these never last long.
I made a lot of cookies and cream recipes this year but this one remains my favorite. It’s a simple cookie, but it’s tasty. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, with cookies and cream pieces swirled throughout. I always get a lot of compliments when I make them and they sold out quite fast at a bake sale this year.
One of the greatest baking discoveries I came across this year was the use of nonfat Greek strained yogurt to replace eggs and oil in recipes. It replaces calories and fat without sacrificing on taste. One of my favorite replacement swaps was in making these cake mix cookies, which tasted like brownies when substituted with Greek yogurt.
#11 Hot Biscoff Milk
Last year, I created a Nutella hot chocolate. It remains one of my favorite drinks of all time. This year, I created a hot Biscoff milk to represent my other great love. It’s a darn close second favorite next to the Nutella hot chocolate.
#10 Butter Rolls
My favorite bread recipe of all time is the milk toast. I still make it quite often but it can be time consuming. These butter rolls use a similar method but without using the tangzhong. The result yields a bread that is just as fluffy and soft as the milk bread I love so much.
#9 Egg Waffles
Egg waffles/eggettes/egg puffs. Whatever you call them, they are a favorite snack of mine. After eating some poor renditions in San Diego, I tried making my own and was surprised at how easy they are to make and overjoyed to be able to replicate this favorite childhood treat. Now every time I try the sample ones at the E & Drink hot pot place, I have the urge to bring in mine to show them what they are supposed to taste like.
This is another recipe that uses Greek-strained yogurt as a substitute. It is healthier than the previous Nutella mug cake I made and tastes better too. The Greek yogurt makes the cake fudgier and brownie-like.
I tried a version at Trader Joe’s where they put their version of cookie spread into a chocolate bar. I was disappointed with the lack of spread, so I made my own. My version is full of cookie spread with just a little thin layer of chocolate. Perfect for Biscoff lovers.